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Brain Benefits of Completing Puzzles
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Puzzle pieces spread out

Why Puzzles Are a Great Activity for Seniors

The Value of Brain Stimulation as You Age

As we age, it is so important to keep our mind engaged and our memory sharp. The activity coordinators at McGregor PACE work hard to plan activities that will provide that essential brain stimulation to seniors. As opposed to being home alone all day with little stimulation, seniors in PACE have daily opportunities to socialize, think critically, and participate in activities that will provide mental exercise. One of our favorite activities for seniors is doing puzzles.

Puzzles are recommended for people of all ages, from young children to older adults. They are an activity that can be done alone or with others, and they can be a source of stress relief. Why are puzzles especially good for seniors? Various research suggests that puzzles can improve short-term memory and lower the rate of cognitive decline. This makes puzzles a great choice for aging seniors with dementia.

The following are just a few reasons why puzzles provide so many brain benefits.

Puzzles require us to use our entire brain.

All of our abilities—cognitive, spatial, and visual—are engaged and activated. Both sides of the brain are stimulated, with the left side focused on creativity and the right side on logic and order. This puts our brains through quite the workout!

Puzzles increase our memory and visual perception.

As your eyes scan across the table searching for a particular piece, your visual recognition is improved and short-term memory is strengthened. This is also true when doing word puzzles like crosswords or word searches.

Puzzles are therapeutic.

Jigsaw puzzles were flying off the shelves in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic for a reason: Doing a puzzle can be very calming. They require our full concentration and force us to put down our electronic devices and focus on the task at hand. If a senior with dementia is agitated or restless, engage them in working on a puzzle. It can be a great way to help them relax and calm their agitation.

Puzzles are just plain fun.

Many of us have been doing puzzles since we were young children. Working on a puzzle can remind us of pleasant memories and boost our spirits.

The next time you pull out a puzzle from the closet, remember that you are not only enjoying a popular pastime, you are stimulating your brain and promoting your overall health and wellness. That is something we can all feel good about!

If you or a loved one would benefit from more opportunities to stimulate your mind as you age, consider the benefits of participating in McGregor PACE. We support our seniors with engaging and challenging activities every single day.